You’ve built a website and you want it to rank #1 for all sorts of things that are important to your business.
So you have done all the things that the experts suggest such as those in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines for them to find, crawl and index your site.
Then you receive two phone calls that you happen to take. One is from a company that says you have to do SEO and gives you a whole load of reasons why. The other is from a company that says you have to do Social Media and gives you a whole load of reasons why. You ring both back and each ‘pooh-pooh’ the other. Their way is, apparently, the only way.
Sound familiar? Leave you confused? Make you want to do ‘something violent’? You are not alone.
Put simply it is that you should try to do both well.
People like recommendations from people they trust or even just posted online. The results of research, from Neilsen, and shown below, though a few years old clearly show this and it’s probably not a surprise to most of us.
OK, you say, I get that but what does it mean for the original question – “Does social media affect SEO and, if so, how?”?
Simply put it means that to fulfil their business objective of finding the best results for you, relevant, real content that people want to read and tell other people about, the search engines have to take notice of the social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ etc. – because it’s there that a lot of the ‘recommending’ is going on. It might just be hitting the ‘Like’ icon or it might be a complimentary tweet perhaps with a link to that information.
Google has understood this for a very long time. Initially it recognised that a link from one page to another was a ‘vote’ or ‘recommendation’ for that page. Then it started looking at your search history to personalise your results. By the way some people still don’t realise this. The block below shows you what and how they do this.
Then whilst all that was going on social media started to grow like topsy and by December 2010 Google had confirmed that was using social signals in its search results. Since then, of course, social media has continued to grow.
That’s why in January 2012 Google announced ‘Search, plus your world’ and said as part of that announcement: “We’re transforming Google into a searchengine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships.”
It has done this not only because social media has become so all encompassing on the web but also because it knows that so many of the other signals such as links are now traded or bought or sought creating ‘linkspam’ that adds a lot of noise to that signal – though they are pretty good at filtering much of that noise. On the other hand social media – despite the fact that Facebook reported that 8.7% of its accounts are ‘fake’ (perhaps the fact that it knows this proves the next point) – is felt to be less susceptible to ‘spam tactics’ as the community get users to report them and can use technology.
So the answer to the question is that social media does affect SEO and is likely to do so more in the coming years as this video SMX Advanced 2012 keynote: Matt Cutts on Links vs. Social Signals indicates. Traditional good quality SEO practices are not dead but social media can no longer be ignored.
If something is really good people talk about it but they only share and recommend things that they think are good and could be useful to their friends; they probably won’t share or recommend something they don’t like or that they feel could damage their image or reputation. To be shared and recommended:
Written by Richard Hill
Just a brief note to let you know of a change of email address. I'm very keen to continue receiving your newsletter as you are by far the most intelligent and perceptive writer of these that I receive. Many other (lesser writers) tend to simply regurgitate whatever the latest next best thing is without thinking about the implications of what they write. So thank you for all the interesting things you have written over the years.
Just to say Hi and that your article on going mobile is very good….Spot on! Best wishes,
A very good run down of design........Mention was made in the newsletter of breadcrumbs. This was a new term to me. I clicked on the e-crm logo to get the front page and used the search box which was not a great deal of help. Perhaps a glossary is needed somewhere.
As ever excellent. Best Regards,
Thanks for your latest newsletter – interesting and helpful, as usual. All the best,
Another very good article and useful summary. Thanks
Hope this finds you well. I think the newsletter is great and would like to keep getting it. Could you please change my e-mail address to this new one? Thanks very much. Regards,
Nice newsletter… as always. This is one of the few that I actually read ☺ Cheers,